Style for the Season: A Guide to Winter Dressing
Meet New York’s most in-demand personal stylists—they’ll edit your wardrobe, shop the best season pieces, and show you how to pull off a cool, chic winter vibe.
Sarah Meikle is the former fashion director of Conde Nast Traveler, Glamour and Teen Vogue and a force in the global fashion industry for two decades. Now a personal stylist for private clients and consultant for leading brands, Meikle believes a beautifully edited, pulled-together wardrobe is how you communicate with the world.
What is the secret to great style?
SM: Great style is so much more than the latest runway trends, it’s a state of mind and how you communicate your lifestyle, attitude, personality, creativity and confidence to the world.
Share your top style tips?
SM: Find your daily uniform, and create a lookbook for work and weekend. Proper portions are everything, so befriend an amazing tailor. Always have a pressed white or blue button-down ready to go. Don’t show too much skin and always hem pants for specific shoes. Learn how to layer and accessorize without overdoing it. Every look needs statement jewelry.
What’s the style vibe for winter and what items should we be adding?
SM: A new season always calls for a closet refresh and I look to the runway for fashion leads. This winter is a ‘cool girl’ season and best summed up as ‘classic with a street twist.’ Mixing utilitarian and streetwear with luxe items to give your look a shiny expensive feel—think traditional tweed pants with a gold blouse; a sequin skirt with a button-down. It’s about juxtaposing and playing with proportions. Layering menswear with feminine pieces—Chloé did this beautifully—oversized knits with a skinny pant or skirt, cropped frayed denim with a glamorous coat. As for the trends: polka dots, pleats, exciting prints, leather, wool, tweed, boots (combat and long), and denim everything. Winter is, of course, coat season and right now your coat is the statement piece, so invest in an assortment from oversized pea coats, fun prints, colors and army coats, I love this military-style anorak.
As models, Beckie Klein and Martina Gordon worked with the world’s most influential stylists and photographers from NYC to Paris, inspiring their decision a decade ago to join forces as personal stylists. Today their client roster includes women and men from the business, tech, finance and entertainment world such as Molly Sims, Bridget Moynahan, and Stacy London who engaged the duo to revamp her style for her series What Not to Wear.
How do you define someone’s personal style?
BK & MG: We aim to understand a client’s vision before determining how far we need to go. Science shows when you first meet someone their brain forms an impression of you in six seconds. If you’ve got six seconds to make an impression, style is very important. How clothes make you feel is also so important because no matter how amazing the pieces are, if you’re not feeling it, it will never translate.
Share your secret to style success?
BK & MG: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Pay attention to the details, they speak volumes. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with shapes like the boyfriend and paper bag waist. Always consider your age and body type. We meet twenty-somethings who dress way too old and 40-plus clients who are in denial about the importance of an age-appropriate wardrobe.
What’s the look for this winter?
BK & MG: Seasonal themes repeat—the key is to keep the shapes and fabrics current. It’s all about a great coat and shoe this time of year; either a lace-up or combat-style boot (look to Alexander Wang, Chloe or Rag & Bone) or high top sneaker. We live in New York where black is the uniform so try to infuse a little color, print, texture and sparkle. Deep green, burgundy, soft grey, camel, tweed, houndstooth and leopard are all classics that are big right now. Our advice is to invest in a third or fourth coat as by the time January rolls around you’ll die of boredom. Our favorite is the unstructured cocoon coat, it’s so fabulously oversized and easy to layer, Zara has great ones in plaid and houndstooth, and Aritzia has an amazing duvet coat. We recently re-discovered Philip Lim who has strong asymmetrical architectural skirts and pants, another must, and awesome coats; and love Ganni for their great prints and silky skirts that tie at the waist and look amazing with combat boots and oversized sweaters.
Banilivy worked in PR for luxury brands Chanel, Prada, and Miu Miu before joining Harper’s Bazaar four years ago where she has a front-row seat to the latest designers, trends and must-have pieces. Her own wardrobe is coveted by friends, colleagues and social media followers to such an extent that she decided to take up personal styling.
Share your style mantra?
AB: Yves Saint Laurent was right when he said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” I’ve been surrounded by women with great style my whole life. My grandmother, mother, and older sister, always had an impeccable eye for style and quality, which has become part of our lifestyle. Style isn’t about what’s fashionable at the moment, it’s a timeless form of expression and confidence and when you feel confident you can conquer the world.
Any wardrobe words of wisdom?
AB: Comfort is key. Invest in your accessories (bags, shoes, jewelry). It’s all about the fit. A closet built on a streamlined selection makes day-to-day dressing enormously easier and should include the following; tailored jackets, trench coat, classic button-downs, sharp blazers, fitted jeans and trousers, a great leather jacket.”
Speaking of what’s fashionable at the moment, what’s on the radar for winter?
AB: Outerwear is the most important aspect of your winter wardrobe so opt for a statement coat to add oomph to your look, this pink patent leather ticks that box. This season I’ll be investing in puffer coats, patent trench coats, and my all-time favorite, the teddy coat. Also on the hit list: chunky oversized and bold colored turtlenecks, leather pants, cashmere sweaters, oversized cardigans, sharp tailored blazers, shearling coats, biker boots, ankle boots and over-the knee boots in classic black, tan or something fun like python print. For a chic off-duty winter vibe, pair a heavy blazer-coat hybrid with a turtleneck or cashmere sweater and printed trousers or leather (faux is fine) pants. For a chic finishing touch add a wool or felt fedora.
WORDS Natasha Silva-Jelly